THREE FOR BART: Sophs, Rondae, Oregon

Three For BART is a daily (or really close to that) drop of three thought provoking articles for your commute or day. Submissions for inclusion taken at: pachoops25@gmail.com

  1. Deonte Burton, Kennedy Meeks lead Breakout Sophomore Formula candidates – Dive into this study (the link) and you’ll find that our own Pac-12 conference gets a shout out. Que Johnson, the Cougar, seems poised for big things as a sophomore based on his limited role with alpha output last season. Additionally, Wynn doesn’t really note that he’ll now be playing in a higher octane offense for Coach Ernie. Look for a study on Pac-12 Freshmen-to-Sophomores in the coming weeks.
  2. Column: To Start, or not to start, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Start. You start RJH because he’s likely to fulfill the first four letters of that word, S-T-A-R. It’s not a question but I appreciate the effort and the statistical try at quantifying it. The DW isn’t wrong in noting he was more productive off the bench. But that was a different team. Now, 2014-15, isn’t so much about replacing Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson so much as developing a new identity.
  3. University of Oregon responds to KATU story in letter to alumni – Maybe I’m an idealist, someone who doesn’t think a given action is rooted in pure evil, but I choose to believe Oregon didn’t overtly delay the expulsion of Dotson, Artis, and Austin for APR purposes. But maybe they did. The key point here is I think it’s a great question for KATU to ask because things lined up as such. The school has responded.
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THREE FOR BART: Cal, Preview, Trojans

Three For BART is a daily (or really close to that) drop of three thought provoking articles for your commute or day. Submissions for inclusion taken at: pachoops25@gmail.com

  1. Sources: Kentucky Coach John Calipari finalizing unprecedented scouting combine for NBA personnel – And they can’t even interact with the players. It’s a strange concept from that angle but a terrific concept from a career development stand point. There are football pro days. Why not hoops pro days? I don’t know if this concept is scalable – do pro scouts (anyone?) want to see this roster? – but Cal is always pushing the limits. It’s a good thing.
  2. College basketball preview 14-15: Pacific 12 – Officially it is the Pac-12 but who’s counting? Oh wait, Dan Hanner is and will be all season long. Get on board with RealGM because it’s only going to make you a smarter fan. And repeat after me, “scoring margin.”
  3. Well That Sh*t Was Fun – Let me forewarn you, Stanford fans and anyone else that hates USC football, you’re not going to want to click that link. But Zack doesn’t care. He does care about his Trojans and the garnered a big win this weekend. This is his recount.
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THREE FOR BART: Duck, Math, Typecasting

Three For BART is a daily (or really close to that) drop of three thought provoking articles for your commute or day. Submissions for inclusion taken at: pachoops25@gmail.com

  1. A Day with the Duck: Oregon’s Mascot and the Silent King of Eugene – If nothing else, just read the final paragraph of this thing. Additionally, it was brought to my attention that the Duck is no longer called Puddles. I’ve been in the dark on this awhile.
  2. Here’s the proof that math is hot these days – As if I needed to provide external support of this theory. But in all seriousness, math is huge. The numbers don’t lie and if you’re not into it, well I’ll probably still have a lot of anecdotal content for you to consume. But I’m still going to rely on the numbers. Unless it’s March.
  3. A New Season of Typecasting for NFL Quarterbacks – Sure this focuses on quarterbacks, the most scrutinized position in sports, but I think the gist of the conversation expands far beyond and as college basketball fans I think the parallel is in the evaluation of coaches. Most recently we discussed whether Craig Robinson should keep his job. But it’s also about the legacy of such names as Bill Self (just one title!??) and/or who is elite (that word…). When is it time for a given coach to go? Shaka Smart? Bill Stevens? Johnny Dawkins? #IsItNovemberYet
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THREE FOR BART: Schollies, BS, Data

Three For BART is a daily (or really close to that) drop of three thought provoking articles for your commute or day. Submissions for inclusion taken at: pachoops25@gmail.com

  1. From Prosperity to Chaos: James Grisom leaves Cal football after losing scholarship and facing unexpected financial troubles – A cautionary tale of the unguaranteed nature of scholarships. In an off-season full of letters championing the  Student-Athlete, Grisom’s story certainly doesn’t seem to align with the proposed principles.
  2. The Fine Art of Bullshit - For me this weekend, it was an outrageous assertion that Lance Armstrong’s doping cover ups had somehow led to Floyd Landis’ suicide. Floyd Landis did not kill himself and Google immediately dispelled that rumor. How do you smartphone?
  3. Online Dating Stats Reveal A ‘Dataclycsm’ Of Telling Trends – As they say, “The more you know…” But similarly, just because you have a lot of data (hi, hoop-math!), it doesn’t always mean much. Which is why I’m further fascinated in the emerging importance of data visualization. Maybe it’s not “emerging” but certainly as we collect more of all this data, there’s a need to both interpret the data (easier said than done) and then to explain the data (sometimes near impossible). In a basketball sense, the data we review helps us understand our own favorite teams and their opponents. This data has helped me to recognize parts of the game I hadn’t previously seen. It’s supplemented the experience. In an online dating sense, I’d love to poke (swipe?) through Tinder’s data. I bet we could find some hilarious trends.
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THREE FOR BART: Beavers, Stats, NFL

Three For BART is a daily (or really close to that) drop of three thought provoking articles for your commute or day. Submissions for inclusion taken at: pachoops25@gmail.com

  1. Oregon State won’t be a Pac-12 doormat much longer – In the interest of full disclosure, this is a softer piece. It’s not very hard hitting but it does provide some jaw dropping insights. For example: OSU has secured just two top-100 Rivals recruits in the last twelve years. That’s Kentucky’s team management staff (they’re effing great at laundry).  Nevertheless, the title evokes the thought as we head into the Tinkle Tenure which I will regularly and consistently grade against the Ernie Administration in Pullman. No one is soon to call the Beavers a sleeping giant, but Tinkle is on to something. How many kids does he have?
  2. Introducing the College Basketball Game Finder – Ever been curious about how many free throw attempts Arizona has taken against UCLA in neutral court games played in March? Now you can find that out. Ever had the itch to know what Oregon has shot from distance in NCAA tournament games? Scratch it! I’m going to use this resource to inundate you all season long with “the last time…” or “when [insert team] plays home games in February they average [insert stat here]…” qualifiers all the PacHoops season long.
  3. People vs. the NFL – We’re fans. Blindly and contently and anxiously and angrily and joyously we are fans. But above all else, we’re humans and need to be humans. Matt Ufford says it.
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THREE FOR BART: Debut, Seattle, UberX, and Fandom

I take Bay Area Rapid Transit to work. Daily. It’s the screaming, clothed monster that moves passengers to and from Milbrae/SFO through the City then trifurcates into the East Bay. I get on at 16th and off at San Bruno. I have eight stops to read things on my phone – six if having cell service is required.

And so I fill my inbox with emails to myself with a subject line of “read” and a link to an article. These articles are collected throughout the day. Sent to me by many sources and discovered in many mediums. I crush these articles during said commute. I’m a slow reader but I can usually get about three articles read in a day while on the train – round trip.

Thus the genesis of “THREE FOR BART.” This is PacHoops’ latest – if not first – franchise in which I drop three thought provoking and (very) loosely Pac-12 basketball associated articles on you for our daily reading pleasure. I use “daily” hesitantly because I’m a dude and the profile says I’m supposed to fear commitment. But I’m going to try. This is for us, however you commute or whenever you can read.

Send me any good stuff that you come across please. Submit it all: blogs, Forbes, NYT, NPR, local, international, video, photo, tweet. It’s all fair game: pachoops25 at gmail dot com or @pachoopsab.

I want to connect us to intelligent stuff.

Maybe we’re not the best fans in the nation, but we can certainly  be the smartest and most well informed fans, leaving the tree poisoning, car burning, and player provocation for elsewhere (but if you happen to be a bag man, I’d love to hear your stories off of any semblance of a record).

Without further adieu, our first Three For BART:
(Note that I’ve been sitting on this concept awhile so the article won’t always be timely but always relevant. Or at least I’ll demonstrate the relevance. Or you’ll tell me otherwise. It’s gonna be great):

  1. Jamal Crawford Is Trying to Keep Seattle’s Basketball Dreams Alive - This dropped over a month ago on Grantland but it’s stuck with me as a grassroots effort to get basketball thriving once again in Seattle. Have you noticed Washington lately? Me either. And when you did notice them they were plucking up talent from their backyard. No longer. But with the efforts of Crawford and other influential Seattlites (Steve Ballmer?) there’s a budding resurgence. And suddenly LoRo has three top-100 2015 commitments.
  2. A Financial Model Comparing Car Ownership with UberX (Los Angeles) – As the pretense of this franchise is commuting, I felt this would be a worthy inclusion. Kyle Hill (author) studies whether or not UberX can be cheaper than car ownership. He’s trying this in Los Angeles which I find interesting because the West Coast boasts it’s wide open planes and space. It was built out not up. Is commuting everyday by bike always feasible? Can UberX be your daily? I dropped my car and while I’m not financially savvy enough to account for the cost differentials, I’m fairly certain I pay less (and drink more). Furthermore, outside the box thinking is always welcome on PacHoops which is why I’ll forever be agitated and impressed with Tony Bennett’s Washington State tenure. He flipped the run-n-gun model of Pac-12 basketball and won. The Taxi companies, however, are far more than agitated by peer-to-peer. And certainly not impressed.
  3. Croke Park Lights up as sport and theatre collide – This is an Irish sportswriter’s account of Saturday’s Central Florida-Penn State tilt in Dublin. It is beautifully written in a unique voice that most certainly waxes poetic about American Football. You’ll love it because you love sports and he romanticizes the theater of sport. You’re a fan of that, right (COUGH oneshiningmoment COUGH)?
2011 NBA Draft

Recruitment to Draft Efficiencies: A Study Studied

With the NBA draft on Thursday, and a smattering of Pac alumni (well sort of alumni, they’re seemingly all early entries presumably taking ongoing coursework to ensure no APR hits), I thought it’d be worth posting a wordy piece I’d researched and wrote a year ago.

Per data collected by the Emory Sports Marketing group, amongst Pac-12 schools, Washington and USC were the most efficient at fulfilling living room promises of NBA paydays. Hoop dreams, as it were, are best suited for downtown Los Angeles and Seattle. Who knew?

Seattle

I mean, look at it…

I certainly didn’t, though I’ve long been aware of the conference’s ability to produce NBA talent. Since 1980, the Pac-12 has produced the second most draftees amongst the Big 6 conferences (Big-12 is not listed on that link as they really only began their existence in 1996-97. Since their inception, however, they’ve produced just 4.6 draft picks per season as compared to 6.4 or greater in each of the other five. Thus, it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t have flirted with second place. Just not enough Jayhawks and Longhorns.

From such bulk data we can make broad, surface conclusions that the Pac-12 has indeed produced talent. That’s clearly a lot of NBA players and tells us something about the quality of players the conference recruits, develops, and gets placed into NBA jobs. I suppose that’s what college is all about – job placement – right?

Of course the number itself doesn’t really say much. Wouldn’t it make sense for the late-Big East with its umpteen constituents to have produced the most NBA players by the simple fact that they have more players? That would seem to make the most sense but it’s not the case as they’ve produced the fifth most draftees (a reason I think the BE was overrated on the whole as a basketball conference but that’s a totally different conversation).

And so we’re presented with Emory’s study; a snapshot into how well a school (we begin to diverge from specific conferences) operates as a job placement service. They used the Rivals recruiting rankings beginning with the 2002 class and attributed weights to a given star rating observe efficiencies. The algorithm:

(# of NBA Picks) /(Weighted Recruiting Talent**)

**Weighted Recruiting Talent = Sum of draft probability
5-star = 0.51, 4-star = 0.13, 3-star=0.03, 2-star=0.008, unranked=0.004

Plug and chug to find that Washington and USC have done the best job (aka most efficient job) at transforming high school talent into NBA draft picks. While Arizona and UCLA have produced 40% of the conference’s draft picks since 1980, they evidently haven’t been as efficient at it (at least since 2002).

There are, of course, some innate issues to this study which they directly address. They essentially make no bones about the fact that the summarized data limits our ability to “draw deeper thoughts.” From a data standpoint we’re dealing with just a very small sample size. Having examined recruiting classes since 2002, we’re really only exposed to 7 classes that have completed their four years and become draft eligible; or at least had their hand forced into eligibility after receiving the maximum four years of instruction and coaching. The 2010 class and beyond could still be selected in June of ‘14 (though good luck cracking that draft class) and have an effect on these efficiencies.

Additionally, one could argue that Arizona and UCLA – two schools with renowned recruiting prowess – are at a statistical disadvantage considering their success at recruiting higher rated recruits. What’s more, their historical success can often skew recruiting rankings. A fringe three-star with a UCLA offer can suddenly find himself a four-star recruit with three-star talent and thus a lower probability (0.03 Weighted Recruiting Talent) of ever being drafted. While it is the responsibility of those respective coaching staffs to improve players, it is not their role to assign recruiting rankings. They’re just supposed to win with the players who signed “yes.” Nevertheless, it was Washington and USC who turned out the most efficient.

How?

Statistically speaking, I’ll struggle to find the answer. As the Emor-ites stated, this is summarized data that won’t quite allow us to dive deeper. Recruiting rankings are no exact science, but they also don’t often lead us wildly astray. No doubt the success of three-stars Derrick Williams and Russell Westbrook hold significant weight in this efficiency rating; but so too might the disappointing careers (otherwise read: undrafted) of former five-stars Mustafa Shakur, JP Prince, Jawann McClellan, and Josiah Turner. And it’s also worth noting the number of efficiency draining four-stars from the conference’s power schools who have gone undrafted: UCLA has seen nine four-star prospects go undrafted since 2002 while Arizona has four such draftless wonders (and five undrafted five-stars).

SilverDraft

His predecessor called a lot of Wildcats

As the “bluebloods” have managed to allure more highly rated talent (or seen the inflation of their recruits’ star rating) they’ve also managed to have 21 kids drafted since 2002 (18 per the study which does not include the 2013 draft). And I recognize that Washington has had more draft picks over this time period than Arizona but within the overall context of NBA products, Arizona’s had the most draft picks (OK tied for the most) of any college program since 1988. Finding that the Wildcats are the 11th most effective at getting kids drafted is surprising. For a brief comparison, within the scope of Emory’s project, Arizona has recruited the second most four- and five-star players (23). UCLA took the top spot (26) while the Huskies were third (20).

Equipped with that, two things become evident:

  1. It makes sense that the schools bringing in the most highly rated prospects have produced the most NBA picks
  2. Arizona must suck at developing talent and/or evaluating it (along with Rivals).

The first point here is sort of a numbers game, similar to the aforementioned Big East thought. Each of UCLA, Washington, and Arizona indeed had the most players drafted since 2002. USC, our second most efficient school, had the fourth most draftees. Bring in better players and they’re likely to get drafted. Sweet.

The second point, however, allows us to see more clearly how Arizona rated at the tail end of this study. They gathered up a ton of talent but it didn’t seem to go anywhere (except perhaps Europe). In fact, from 2002-2013, Arizona failed to make even one Final Four. A feat they’d accomplished four times in the 14 years prior. UCLA attended three. Worth noting, in Arizona’s defense, is the fact that over a critical four-year span (2006-2010) overlapping this study’s data range, Arizona had four different head coaches. They subsequently had little continuity to player development and recruiting.

Nevertheless, Arizona didn’t get many of its kids into the league.

So what did the Husky and Trojan staffs recognize that perhaps others didn’t? How’d they effectively place their players in NBA jobs? These aren’t the first two schools that come to mind when thinking about the Pac-12 and the NBA but that’s how it shook out. Something has made them unique within the context of this evaluation. What?

Recruiting is a natural starting point to understand their success. And seeing as how Washington “won” I began in Seattle.

In the first 30 years of the McDonald’s All-American game, only three Seattle prep stars were burger all-stars. Since 2004, however, there have been nine such heralded players. The area, despite losing their Sonics, has produced oodles of basketball talent. In examining the number of NBA players from Seattle (and we’ll use the greater Seattle area here) there are 28 such players. We again find ourselves staring at summarized data but for the sake of context, those 28 NBA players are more than the total number of NBA players produced by the States of Arizona and Colorado…combined.

Indeed the Emerald City has produced and that would seem convenient for the local college, wouldn’t it? As mentioned, there have been nine McDonald’s All-Americans from the Seattle area since 2004. Four of them stayed to play at HecEd. And if you bothered to read the previously linked Sports Illustrated article (linked again for your convenience) you’d have learned that there is a supportive culture surrounding prep basketball in Seattle. Those who make it return to help those trying to make it. Such nurturing could get a kid to stick around.

And so they have.

Of the nine players drafted out of Washington since 2002, six of them were from Seattle. Additionally, one of the picks was from Portland a convenient two-ish hours away and a city devoid a college team. So if you’re counting, 77% of the players drafted out of the University of Washington have been local kids. You think that proximity has something to do with talent evaluation? Or how about relationship building, trust, familiarity, comfort, ease-of-transition, and everything else that pertains to the success of a young man?

As for USC, half of the group drafted out of the Galen Center (and the Sports Arena until 2006) were LA locals. To drop more summarized data on you, there are 92 NBA players from Los Angeles; which doesn’t include the greater LA areas of Long Beach (13), Inglewood (9), Compton (8), or Hollywood (5).

CaliforniaLove

California Love.

And perhaps adding fodder to this localization fire would be USC’s coaching turnover during the 2002-13 time period. There have been three different men in charge; which doesn’t include the two interims who led for brief spells during the 2004-05 and 2012-13 seasons. They’ve also endured NCAA sanctions. Little surrounding the Trojan program would suggest developmental success. Remember when we blamed some of Arizona’s efficiency struggles on their coaching gaffes? USC suffered/incurred similar yet still managed to efficiently get kids selected. Local ones at that.

Which of course begs intrigue into Westwood. The other school in Los Angeles of basketball note – UCLA – finished fifth in the efficiency rankings. They too had access to LA’s finest and managed to get eleven of them snatched up by NBA teams. During the greatest stretch of UCLA basketball since the Wooden era (Howland’s three straight Final Fours) he was rolling out rosters packed with Angelinos: Afflalo, Shipp, Collison, Farmar, Roll, Mata-Real, Westbrook, Bozeman, Hollins. These were kids who grew up on UCLA. And then nine of them went League. The Bruins had nine locals drafted amongst their eleven draftees, 82%. A number that parallels that of Washington’s local draft rate (77%).

(Fun fact break: UW and UCLA have also combined to win six conference titles since 2002)

Returning to the draft, over the same stretch, Cal developed four recruits into NBA-level talents; three of whom were from the Bay Area. Cal was the third most efficient per Emory. Need more? Here is a list of Arizona natives who became Wildcats since 1984: Sean Elliot, Mike Bibby, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, Jerryd Bayless. All lottery picks. As it were, All-American, Nick Johnson, will likely be the first Arizona raised Arizona Wildcat to not be a lottery pick. Nevertheless, Johnson received a call from Sean Miller in April of 2009 expressing his interest in his talents. It was Sean Miller’s first day on the Arizona job.

This is not to say that collecting local talent is a one-way pass to collegiate success and subsequent NBA paychecks. Certainly not as recruiting becomes increasingly national and international. Both Oregon State and Washington State have found success recruiting in Australia (Gary Bennett and Saint Mary’s, too). Of course both WSU and OSU just fired their coaches in the past two months so there’s that. Though also worth noting is that Ben Howland’s burning of LA recruiting bridges ultimately cost him his LA job.

The ultimate takeaway from this study might boil down to the basic Real Estate tenant of location, location, location. After all, home is where the heart is. And if your heart is set on the NBA, it would seem your best (most efficient) means of getting there would be staying right in your own backyard.

Paper_Letter

Don’t Ignore This Letter (The one from the Pac-12 Presidents)

Don’t ignore this letter. I did for a little while, but only because I went to a Mexican all-inclusive (recommended) to celebrate my brother’s graduation from medical school. But I implore you, do not ignore this letter.

The Pac-12 Presidents’ May 22 note to the rest of everyone is written in equal parts legalese, charm, altruism, and self-righteousness. They laud themselves as bold acting and seeking the autonomy not yet afforded them by the NCAA. And now their deadline is approaching (Hi, June) and this letter should not be ignored.

Because maybe these “pioneers of the west” are onto something? The NCAA has demonstrated a general inability to govern its institutions with any semblance of consistency or rationale. It is neither feared nor loved as Machiavelli would suggest leaving themselves susceptible to a coups, loosely what the Pac-12 Presidents have suggested (also, if you think Larry Scott isn’t all over this letter, you’re nuts).

Consider the Pac-12’s chest puffed. Bravado. They want a response from their “peer conferences” (presumably the Big 12, Big 10, ACC, and SEC) by June 4th before everyone meets on June 16th.

And before diving into the outlined objectives of this letter/initiative/revolution/coups, I’d like to note that the group rather swiftly denounces the resolution of athletes unionizing. Immediately prior to mentioning that this is “not the answer” the presidents refer to themselves and their peer leaders as CEOs. I find this language contradictory on many levels in such that unionization implies student-athletes are employees which the schools do not want. Meanwhile, proclaiming oneself a “CEO” suggests you hold chief office over employees. While there is not a concrete parallel between CEO and employment, the vernacular suggests as much. It is the only time CEO is referenced in the entire letter.

But this is less a matter of employment than a recognition that student-athletes (referenced 8x in the letter) deserve more. If they’ll go so far as to threaten unionization – autonomy! – there must be a gap between their needs and what they’re getting. The Pac-12 is recognizing this in a “bold” manner and trying to stay a step ahead. If they can deliver better benefits to their “non-employees,” they’ll pipe down and play the games, or rather get their educations or healthcare benefits. Is this the most fair means to a justified end? I dunno. But the important part is that the dialogue is happening. From Northwestern’s football team to the Ed O’Bannon and his lawsuit, the conversation is being had – for better and worse – which will result in change. Change is can be good.

On to the meat of this. The prezzies have outlined for us ten principle objectives for reform. Here they are with recognition of whether each principle is good or bad, what it is, and why it’d even be included (the third of which is also where I’ll take my blogging liberties). Also worth noting, certainly as we examine what each principle is, none of this has been spelled out for execution. As principles I think that can be excused but also highlights the complexities of institutional change. The good stuff:

  1. Permit institutions to make scholarship awards up to the full cost of attendance.
    • Good /Bad Principle: Good
    • What is it? From snacks to meals to housing and other comforts not currently afforded within an athletic scholarship, the University would have athletes’ backs.
    • What’s the point? Money talks and the NCAA and everything it’s associated with aren’t above this axiom. With the schools promising to spend more on their athletes, they will be demonstrating their commitments and taking care of their “student-athletes.” Further, by taking care of the entire cost of attendance, institutions can sidestep the conversation of paying student-athletes by noting that they’re already going above and beyond covering tuition.
  2. Provide reasonable on-going medical or insurance assistance for student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury in competition  or practice.  Continue efforts to reduce the incidence  of disabling injury.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Good.
    • What is it? Get hurt at school, school’s got your broken back. They’ve also noted the CYA clause that they’ll reduce the incidence of disabling injury. Football is on high alert at all levels.
    • What’s the point? This seems to be a pretty obvious point and a friend of mine is producing a documentary noting that schools most certainly do not cover these athletes beyond their time on campus. Similar to principle #1, the Prezzies are recognizing where they could perhaps improve care of their non-employees. Presumably, as a union and/or employees, student-athletes would be eligible for benefits they are entitled to. If on-going care becomes a part of scholarships, the schools control the care and the amount of it. Not the union or the government.
  3. Guarantee scholarships for enough time to complete a bachelor’s degree, provided that the student remains in good academic standing.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Good.
    • What is it? Fulfilling a promise. These are student-athletes but just because the latter half falls off, doesn’t mean the school is off the hook for the former.
    • What’s the point? This is something like the Friday Night Lights principle. If you’ve ever read the book or are familiar with the story, these kids are adored and taken care of right up until they’re no longer playing. Remember Boobie Miles? Knee gone, love gone. Alas, this is not specifically referencing injury. Sometimes degrees take longer than athletic eligibility to complete. Allowing kids to complete their degree on the school’s dime is a good thing. Chalk this one up as a win for the engineers.
  4. Decrease the time demands placed on the student-athlete in-season, and correspondingly enlarge the time available for studies and full engagement in campus life, by doing the following: 1) Prevent the abuse of organized “voluntary” practices to circumvent the limit of 20 hours per week. 2) More realistically assess the time away from campus and other commitments during the season, including travel time.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Whatever.
    • What is it? The RichRod rule. He got wrist slapped for such abuses at Michigan and in discussing this letter I was passed this glorious rant.
    • What’s the point? It’s weak but I get it. There’s such aggrandized speech surrounding “college life” and “student-athlete” that if principles like this weren’t included we could scream bloody hypocrisy. But perhaps we can anyways. Larry Scott and the presidents’ ability to uphold this one will be fascinating. For example, Pac-12 basketball used to be pretty strictly Thursdays and Saturdays. It was simple, predictable, and allowed for the least amount of time away from campus. Now, with the addition of the Pac-12 Networks, most road trips include a Wednesday or Sunday game. Extended travel, time away from campus. Additionally, there were a handful of weekends that included a Wednesday and a Sunday game. Couple that with a dramatic increase in Thursday night football games and one has to consider why the second of the two sub-principles is suggested. It’s the right thing to do on paper, but would these guys really push for something that didn’t directly benefit them? Spreading the schedule thin benefits the networks. Tightening it up benefits the students (supposedly).
  5. Similarly decrease time demands out of season by reducing out-of-season competition and practices, and by considering shorter seasons in specific sports.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Meh
    • What is it? I’m not terribly familiar with gratuitous amounts of out-of-season competition or where it occurs. I played in summer ball leagues in college but they weren’t school sponsored. Similarly there are Pro-Am leagues all over the country that give college kids opportunities to compete over the summer. Again, I’m not familiar with much beyond that (enlighten me?). That said, shortening season and minimizing competition correlates directly with principle #2 in which we’re trying to reduce injuries.
    • What’s the point? File this principle under “Consistency.” If we’re not going to let players get injured they sure as hell aren’t going to get injured while it’s not broadcast or not counting towards awards.
  6. Further strengthen the Academic Progress Rate requirements for post-season play.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Ask Kevin Ollie?
    • What is it? Schools will have to graduate a higher percentage of their athletes in order to be allowed to play for titles.
    • What’s the point? Teaching to the test. Therein lies the flaw to No Child Left Behind (amongst others) and the APR. The point of upping the standards would obviously be to ensure that more students graduate to ensure more athletes can win! But such a standard directs coaches and players to simply fulfill a score. They can begin to “teach to the test” and the crux of an education is lost: To learn. Simply upping the standards just puts more student-athletes in situations to graduate for the sake of it. Like NCLB, the APR’s heart is in the right place, I’m just not sure it’s the most effective means to upholding the S-A mantra.
  7. Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men’s basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men’s basketball.
    • Good/Bad Principle: WHAT???
    • What is it? A threat.
    • What’s the point? College coaches and administrators are powerful people and the NBA laughs at that power. The one-and-done rule was a hot topic during the 2012 lockout in college hoops circles. But it’s so un-tied to revenue that the Players Association and owners just tossed it aside. Ignored it. And that stings for these powerful coaches and administrators. It’s screwing with their altruism (student-athlete) and their brand. College basketball is becoming a minor league. The purity of the sport is diluted. A loss of innocence. New GS Warriors head coach, 5-time NBA champion, and Tucson demigod, Steve Kerr, thinks the age limit should be increased, too (that’s one insightful read, btw). But there’s a big gap between the wants and the haves. As it was brushed aside previously, Article X doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. So the Presidents here are taking a little brother move and saying, “If we can’t play, then no one can!!” Threatening to keep freshmen from playing (a move institutions would no doubt frame as in the best interest of student-athletes) means NBA scouts and teams can’t evaluate their next generation of talent and forces them into making less educated decisions with their money. While this all boils down to $, NBA teams would likely not be willing to take gambles on assets their unfamiliar with. Schools would be taking a major risk in executing this plan – there are other options like Europe, Junior Colleges, lawsuits, etc. – but the mere threat could be enough to move the NBA needle.
  8. Provide student-athletes a meaningful role in governance at the conference and
    NCAA levels.

    • Good/Bad Principle: Good.
    • What is it? An invite to the party…
    • What’s the point? And a seat at the kids’ table.
  9. Adjust existing restrictions so that student-athletes preparing for the next stage in their careers are not unnecessarily deprived of the advice and counsel of agents and other competent professionals, but without professionalizing intercollegiate athletics.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Great.
    • What is it? While most everyone is going pro in something other than sports, those going on to play pro sports would have improved access to the people evaluating them as possible employees at that level.
    • What’s the point? As it is today, the (pointless) mid-April NCAA draft declaration rule comes well before the early May draft camps. Not even the NBA’s deadline to declare (late April) allows athletes to participate. Pro Days would seem to be a good idea. Surrounding this principle you hear a lot of discussion about Agents. Certainly they have a beat on draft statuses and interest. They could provide some sound advice, too. The overarching fear here (as evidence by the principles’ final sentence) is “professionalization;” otherwise read, “money exchanging hands.” Ironically enough, this one’s all about making and educated decision.
  10. Liberalize the current rules limiting the ability of student-athletes to transfer between institutions.
    • Good/Bad Principle: Good.
    • What is it? Player’s have to sit out a year if they transfer, receive a release from their school (we see you, Leticia), can be limited in the schools the transfer to, etc. They wanna make it easier to move.
    • What’s the point? Transfers, certainly of late, are being considered an epidemic. Transfer rates are soaring and this is a bad thing (supposedly). I’m not sold, one way or the other, but believe that if someone wants to leave, they should be allowed to leave. We can preach all we want about commitment and follow-through. Words coaches use as a lifetime defending something. Transfers use them as a punchline (reference). But everyone else is doing it. Administrators and coaches jump ship for greener pastures, so why can’t the players? Hell, this whole thing is boiling down to what everyone else is doing so why not give the players a little bit of what everyone else is getting? Just so long as it’s not money.

Don’t ignore this letter. The B1G hasn’t and, as June 4th approaches, I imagine others won’t as well. I don’t think these principles are the answer to college sports’ inequalities, inadequacies, or inefficiencies, but it is a start. A conversation starter.

Let’s talk.

tinkle2

Wayne Tinkle to Corvallis

Should we make the tinkle jokes now or later? I’m opting for later because I have to pick and choose my moments to act like an adult and right now shall be one of them. Mom, I hope you’re reading. I also think such humor is better suited for well timed tweets during tense game situations.

Alas, let’s welcome Mr. Coach Wayne Tinkle to the Conference of Champions. While he inherits what could amount to the worst Pac-12 team since – well since really not that long ago when Utah and USC were 6-win teams in 2012 – he can, however, take solace in the fact that he will now be the conference’s tallest coach! Tinkle stands 6-feet-10-inches tall and looks to be the Shaquille to Krystkowiak’s Divac. That said, K crushes bike and phone thieves and Tinkle:

Tinkle

So aside from from gravity defiance, what does Tinkle bring westward? He’s the third man (by my calculations, I could be wrong) to leave the Grizzlies for the Pac. No doubt he aspires to match the success of Mike Montgomery (281 conference wins), but let’s focus on what Tinkly has already done. He’s coached just one team to a losing record and played on CBS in March three times. That’s three more times than Oregon State in the past 24 years. Tinkle can Dance.

Of course a new hire begs the question whether or not he can dance in his new colors. It would seem he won’t be doing such for awhile but he has an auspicious start considering his son is considered a high major talent, a three-star forward named Tres Trinkle who will follow pops to Corvallis. Now let’s run that back real quick: big dad, coaching big son who’s name is Tres. If that doesn’t sound like the trailer to the sequel to The McDermotts: A Jump Shot Story then you’re not paying attention.

Disney just contacted me for a script (I declined after declining to watch Million Dollar Arm).

All in all, this is a good hire. Considering the timing of it all (weird) and the support around this program (minimal as 2014 saw Gill’s worst attendance numbers in years) getting a proven coach is good work. And work is what Tinkle will have to do to have any semblance of success in what amounts to the most success deprived basketball program in the conference.

Is it a good day to be a Beaver? Maybe. But it’s always cool to fly private:

 

CraigRobinson

Craig Robinson Fired After Not Getting Fired

When I tiredly opened the Twitter app on my phone while awaiting a train that was seven minutes away, the first news I saw was that Craig Robinson had been let go. It took a second to process, such are Monday mornings, but as that sunk in, all I could think was, “Now what?”

Bob De Carolis oozed confidence just a handful of weeks ago in noting that his coach would return. He listed everything Craig had accomplished that the previous five coaches following Ralph Miller had not pulled off. Now many of these accomplishments are meek (Oregon State had four wins against top-50 and six against top-100 NCAA basketball programs this past season, including wins over two teams that advanced to the Sweet 16), and none included an NCAA tournament visit. But Robinson had bested them all. Oregon State’s best coach in more than twenty years. And now he now joins them as a former Beaver.

While “now what” was my first thought, reactions to the news were the immediate response. To address:

1) Why is Craig Robinson being fired?

Aside from the aforementioned vote of confidence from his boss (you paying attention to this possible future candidates?) we can rationalize why Robinson was fired as the trajectory of his program was less than promising. He was about to lead a team that had very little talent. Everyone of note was leaving and the program’s win totals over his six years reads like this: 18, 14, 10, 21! 14, 16. The Beavers were going to be very bad in 2014-15, competing with that 2011 ten-win squad as worst Robinson team in Corvallis. This is an unfortunate scenario for a seventh year coach. The why fire him question is kind of easy to answer despite some of his semi-unprecedented success in Corvallis.

2) Why is he being fired now?

The quick answers here suggest money was in play. Robinson was owed $4M and will make that $4M whether or not he coaches in Corvallis. Someone with lots of money perhaps wanted Robinson out and made it a possibility for the athletic program to oust the First Coach. They accomplished this either by subsidizing the buyout or threatening to subsidize nothing. Money talks and this maybe wasn’t a possibility when schools normally fire their under-performing coach in – say – March. Because it’s May now and so….

3) But seriously, why now?

It’s May, every coaching gig has been inquired about, filled or rejected, recruiting is picking up, and everyone is leaving Eugene. You’re offering a job that most closely resembles a rusted ’93 Taurus that also needs a new transmission. And brakes. And a rear window. And probably three new wheels. Gone are the Beavers’ five leading contributors and they might only have a mitten to cover it up (that’s a joke noting that Gary Payton’s son – Gary “The Mitten” Payton II – will be starting at OSU this fall). From Drew:

The cupboard is bare, it’s non-existent and there isn’t even an appointment with the carpenter to build a new one. But taking over a talented roster is something only Steve Alford, Tubby Smith, and Bill Self got to do (sure there are others but that’s this moment’s #HotSportsTake). In moving coaching jobs, it’s not exactly a pre-requisite. A foundation for success, however, that’s a different story. Craig Robinson was sub-.500 and is the best coach the school’s had since they employed the second best Miller the conference has ever seen [winky face emoji]. In summary: they’re offering a bad role to a thin market.

The reactionary phase is satiated but we’re now back to my initial reaction: Now what?

Well Bob De Carolis lied to us in his press conference noting that he had “no candidates in mind.” Puh-lease. The third point above alludes completely and totally to the idea that there is someone lined up. At least that’s what I want to believe. And if there isn’t paperwork on someone’s desk that would make them the next coach inside Gill, then I have to ask, “BUT SERIOUSLY WHY NOW?” To not have a solid candidate lined up when working this far outside the realm of normal hiring cycles suggests ineptitude within an athletic department that seems to be pretty adept (solid football program, a top ranked baseball team, Women’s hoops danced, 2012-13 gymnastics conference champs).

The timing of this would seem to be an opportunity for De Carolis to either look brilliant or otherwise. 1) Awkwardly fire your coach to bring in [insert sexy hire here which could turn out to be Ben Howland which would be a monster hire at a school like OSU and might also demonstrate just how tarnished the Howland brand is in the wake of his departure from UCLA but we can probably dedicate an entire post to just that and cut out this run on sentence]. Or, 2) awkwardly fire your coach to bring in an elongated coaching hunt, an underwhelming name, and probably some serious heat.

The future of OSU basketball weighs in the De Carolis balances of decision making. And while part of that future is already written – the Beavs are going to suck next year – it’s the AD’s job to think big picture.

What is Bob De Carolis thinking?

Personal Note: I’m bummed to see Craig Robinson leave the conference. I defended his position when he was first retained because I thought he was, if nothing else, OSU’s best option. That’s the basketball side and while I don’t have particularly close access to these personalities, in my few opportunities, Robinson was a charming, thoughtful, funny guy. At Pac-12 Media Day I asked him about how his defense had improved by prefacing it with a comment on Barrack. He laughed, answered, and then coached the conference’s worst defense. But you laugh at my jokes and I think you’re good people. Good luck, Craig. You’ll probably do just fine.